On Tuesday night over a curry, my sister told me about an amazing invention which I'd never heard of before. Sophie had mentioned to our optician, the inimitable Peter Thomas, that the combination of long days and living in London was making her contact lenses particularly grimy and uncomfortable. Peter Thomas - who has a white beard and emanates silence and calmness like the wisest man who ever lived - told her that his practice was currently in the process of trialing something called orthokeratology, or ortho-k if you're a cool cat.
(By the way, I nearly titled this post "Power to the pupil: back once again with the retina master", but I thought that might have been a bit of a clunky pun, so I went with the above. Damn, optometry really lens itself to some cornea jokes.)
Anyway, orthokeratology has only hit the mainstream in the last few years - America drug regulators the FDA only approved the first design in 2002 - although the idea has been around since the sixties. It involves putting a special type of rigid contact lenses in your eyes before you go to bed at night, which reshape your cornea while you sleep. When you wake up, you take the ortho-k lenses out, and because your corneas have been refracted - and your shortsightedness effectively 'fixed' - your vision is perfect for the day. Hurrah!
I thought about this, and at first I was wowed. Then I considered getting some orthokeratology for myself, and my poor mind was beset with doubts. I mean, the thing's bending a hidden bit of your eye while you sleep! What if your cornea snaps? Why is this any better than contact lenses? What the hell is a cornea anyway? If ortho-k is so good, why haven't I heard of it before? But then a thought comes to me, that is both comforting and unsettling: if you can't trust an optician, who can you trust?